Period Equity‘s mission is to make safe period products available and affordable for all who need them, tax-free. The organization believes that a completely participatory society should have laws and policies that take menstruation into account. Its focus is on three core issues—safety, access, and tax.
Period Equity supports three main causes as depicted by the organization’s three core issues:
Safety – To ensure that period products are safe for everyone to use, the organization works with non-profit organizations, scientists, and legal professionals to research and formulate litigation strategies geared toward warning consumers about potential safety concerns in period products. The ultimate goal is to push for long-term testing and make it possible for every person who menstruates to have safe products, especially when it comes to schoolchildren.
Access – From 2016, Period Equity worked with the New York City Council to push legislative changes that provide free period products to schools, prisons, and shelters. Dozens of states and municipalities replicated these policies. In 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, which contained a clause giving free period products to federal prisoners. In 2020, as part of the Covid-19 stimulus package, legislation that allows people to put aside pre-tax funds to buy period products was passed, which was in line with a policy proposed by Period Equity in 2015.
The Tax – In 2015, Period Equity joined forces with Cosmopolitan in a national petition that challenged the tampon tax. As a result, nine states and two cities permanently eliminated this tax, and California temporarily suspended it. Several more states introduced legislation that would eventually abolish tax on period products. After leading the initial lawsuit that resulted in New York repealing the tax, the collaboration mobilized a legal community to raise pioneering constitutional claims in the remaining states.
Some of the most significant projects undertaken by Period Equity are:
Periods Gone Public
This book, written by Period Equity co-founder Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, explores menstrual equity’s political and cultural landscape. It is an essential voice for period activism.
Tax Free. Period.
Period Equity launched this campaign in June 2019 to persuade 30 states of the US to eliminate the tampon tax. The basic premise of the argument is that this tax only applies to those who menstruate, which is entirely unfair and a form of gender discrimination. The organization mobilized law students and attorneys working for free around the country to help challenge the tampon tax in courts.
Period Equity was launched by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a leader in equitable menstrual policy, and Laura Strausfeld, an attorney. Strausfeld became interested in the cause when she researched the impropriety and illegality of period-product tax while she was a law student. As part of her research, she read an essay by Weiss-Wolf and reached out to propose a lawsuit against New York State.
Working with five plaintiffs and the Emery Celli Brinkerhoff law firm, they took legal action against the state and had the tax repealed. Period Equity was the result of their continued work together.